How Colorism Affects Light Skinned Girls and Women

Some people mistakenly assume that colorism is an issue for dark skinned people, but it’s actually an issue for all people. The prevalence of that misconception is part of the reason colorism persists. In order for our communities to really heal from this issue, we must acknowledge the ways that colorism affects light skinned girls and women. Having a light skinned sister, it’s easy for me (and her) to see both sides of this issue and how no one goes untouched by colorism. For others, however, it may not be as clear. I single out females because color intersects with gender in ways that are more complex than one post… Read More

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Historical Roots of Colorism, Part I: Early Spanish Origins

The Spanish cared about skin color. Whether on the European continent, or throughout the Spanish colonial world, ancestry, and the proscribed skin colors thus attached, mattered. Long before the formation of the United States, and even before the French recognized the light-skinned “mulâtre” (mulatto) in colonial censuses during the 1690s, the Spanish attached specific social and racial values to particular skin tones, and the degrees of mixture each one implied. As early as 1533, a debate arose in Madrid, Spain’s capital, over whether or not children of Spanish men and Indian or African women should be recognized by the Crown and educated as vassals of the empire. After some debate,… Read More

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colorism in hip hop ave by Scott W

Colorism in Hip Hop: Keeping it Real

The phrase ‘keeping it real” was coined by the hip hop world, a genre of music I’ve been known to enjoy. But many of the biggest names in hip hop are consistently guilty of NOT keeping it real. This applies to many aspects of hip hop, but for our purposes, we’re going to examine colorism in hip hop. The following are eight aspects of colorism in hip hop that we must be “real” and honest about. 1) Colorism in hip hop does exist. There’s debate about whether or not colorism exists in general, so we can expect controversy when discussing whether or not colorism exists in hip hop. Many have… Read More

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black girl with plaits via blue skyz media on flickr; help your children deal with colorism

Are You Doing Enough to Help Your Child Deal with Colorism?

“I always tell my daughter she’s beautiful,” said one father in response to our discussion about colorism. He, like many parents, believed that she was too young for any discussion beyond that. Like many parents, he thought that this vague show of affection was enough to ward off the world’s animosity toward dark skin and Afrocentric features. Yet despite his regular proclamations of his daughter’s beauty, she herself actually saw very little beauty or worth in dark skin. I could see it, but he was clearly in denial. If you really want to help your child deal with colorism, it’s time to stop relying on the easy excuses. Why merely… Read More

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A Broader Definition of Colorism

While the term colorism may lead us to focus on skin color, we can only get a full grasp on the issue if we allow for a broader definition of colorism that also includes other physical features such as hair, nose, lips, and eyes, especially among people of African decent. The reason colorism is broader than mere color is that people don’t just view skin tone as gradient–they also view race as gradient. In some societies, there’s the concept that people can be “close to white” or “almost white” or “more white” compared to others in their race. Of course the actual terms and comparisons vary from region to region,… Read More

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A New Series on the Historical Roots of Colorism

By Andrew N. Wegmann Colorism, like all modern constructs, has roots in our history. Although versions of colorism have existed across nearly every civilization throughout every time period, the most immediately available to us is that of the United States. Over the next few months, I will trace these historical roots, shedding light on where, when, and how the problem of colorism came to affect our society today. Colorism itself is nothing new; but it was only recently (in the grand scheme of human history) that a prejudice has grown around the notion of skin pigmentation, and variations thereof. From the “Casta System” of 17th century New Spain to the… Read More

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Colorism and Racism: What is the Difference?

Because many people have not heard of colorism and may be unclear about how it relates to racism, I want to explore the particular definitions and the relationship of colorism and racism. Defining Colorism and Racism Colorism- prejudiced attitudes and/or discriminatory acts against people based on the color (shade or tone) of their skin Racism- prejudiced attitudes and/or discriminatory acts against people based on their actual or perceived racial status I want to highlight the fact that people of different races may have the same skin tone. See the three women below.     And people of the same race may have different skin tones. See the two women below.     In cases of racism, two people of different races but… Read More

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Colorism in Social Media: What Can We Do?

Colorism in social media can be seen as merely a reflection of what goes on in the world at large; however, the very nature of social media has actually transformed the ways in which we experience colorism in modern society. Throughout history, colorism has always been perpetuated in large part through various forms of media, from ancient stories and texts that equated dark with evil and light with good, to prejudicial casting in Hollywood films. But social media has a few characteristics that make it unique from other, older forms of media. Social media: allows people to be anonymous or create personas, therefore allowing them to say things they might have… Read More

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Who Says Colorism Doesn’t Exist? And What Should We Say To Them?

In our efforts to combat colorism, there’s pushback from people who flat out deny that colorism is real. They claim that colorism doesn’t exist, that it’s just a make-believe issue, just jealousy, just a coincidence, etc. So just who are these people that would make such an outrageous claim? Who says colorism doesn’t exist? Scholars too blinded by “the research” to see what’s really happening I witnessed this kind of denial when Soledad O’Brien’s Who is Black in America? aired on CNN. A couple of prominent black American scholars pointed to the lack of historical evidence to prove that things like the paper bag test ever existed, and so they… Read More

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Opposing Colorism in Hip Hop Videos

While Hip Hop has many other problems (drugs, violence, homophobia, sexism, etc.), its standard of female beauty has long been a hot topic. Regardless of what we think about Hip Hop in general, it’s been labeled as part of the colorism problem; therefore, I think we should include Hip Hop in discussions about colorism remedies. In this post, I’ve been inspired by a particular artist to discuss opposing colorism in Hip Hop videos. Music videos is one of the first issues brought up in discussions about colorism in America. This is an obvious place to start when you consider Hip Hop’s ubiquity and massive influence around the globe along with its infatuation… Read More

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Can The Africa Channel Help us Combat Colorism?

It certainly takes an entire host of tools and strategies to combat colorism around the world. That’s why my goal for this site is to compile as many of those tools and strategies as I can. The Africa Channel has the potential to be quite a valuable tool in the fight against colorism. Combat Colorism with Imagery and Cultural Legacy It’s imagery. They use their ability to create images, and then they use these images that they’ve created to mislead the people. Until 1959 the image of the African continent was created by the enemies of Africa. Africa was a land dominated by outside powers. A land dominated by Europeans. And as… Read More

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Age Appropriate Discussions on Colorism

I stumbled upon a useful article on Parents.com titled, “Talking About Race, Age-by-Age.” Although it’s not specifically about colorism, I think it’s extremely relevant since we have to talk to children about colorism in the context of race in general. Discussions on colorism and many other topics are often difficult for parents, especially the part about gauging how much children know or should know at certain ages. The author of the article, Kara Corridan, uses the research of Dr. Rebecca Bigler, who breaks down the developmental stages of racial perception and understanding into four different age groups. 6 months – 1 year: Children can recognize differences in skin color and hair… Read More

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